Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.


Friday, January 29, 2016

RMEF Expresses Concern over Proposed National Monument Designation in Arizona

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently sent a letter (see below) to President Obama and other federal and congressional leaders regarding its concern over a proposal to create a Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument. Such a designation may restrict or halt hunting opportunity and necessary wildlife management.



January 27, 2016


The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Re: Proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument

Dear Mr. President:

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, representing 220,000 members nationwide, fully supports the State of Arizona Game and Fish Commission in its opposition to the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument. We work to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

The Commission’s letter to you on January 15, 2016 outlined several reasons for its opposition to monument designation, each of which support their argument that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and State of Arizona already manage the lands in question for multiple uses with wildlife and natural resource conservation as top priority.

Arizona already has 18 national monuments—more than any other state. These areas include public recreational opportunities—including hunting—yet often have restrictions that impede hunter opportunity and the ability of the Arizona Game and Fish Department to manage wild game. The fact is, many of these areas are managed as wilderness yet were not subject to Congressional review and approval. We are concerned the Grand Canyon Watershed and Kaibab National Forest could be shut down for hunting and recreational shooting without public comment—usurping the management authority of the state.

National monument designation can also create funding problems for state agencies. State and federal land within a monument that produced revenue from taxation, timber, mining, grazing and other uses becomes unavailable for the state’s general fund, schools and infrastructure. Monument designation should first include detailed analysis of its economic impacts.

We also have concerns about the following threats to the area identified by the proponents of monument designation on their website (www.greatergrandcanyon.org).

Uranium Mining - The Department of the Interior (DOI) instituted a 20-year moratorium on new mine development in the proposed monument. There is no immediate proposal for new mine development. The Kaibab Game Preserve (Kaibab Plateau) and some lands south of the Colorado River are already protected against hard rock mining by Game Preserve status. This status has been tested many times in court without exclusion. The threats related to health are noted to have occurred in the “Grand Canyon region.” We assume the proponents’ website is referring to the old mine sites from the 1950s around Tuba City. As far as we know, no such sites exist on the Arizona Strip. The mining that began in the mid-1980s has followed entirely different plans of operation and have left clean mine sites when mines were closed. Based on the above information we do not see any threats to lands in question, especially in light of the DOI Moratorium and the Game Preserve.

Logging - As stated on the proponents’ website, timber management has changed dramatically in the past 15 years in the ponderosa forest in the proposed monument area. In fact there has been little harvest other than salvage from wildfires. The current forest plan adequately addressed the old growth issue. The plan gives direction towards restoration of the ponderosa forest which will include removal of small diameter trees. Monument designation will no doubt hinder this effort by further restricting restoration plans. Fortunately, the North Kaibab Ranger District still has a good old growth component while the lands south of the Colorado River (with the exception of the Coconino Rim) are in need of treatment to begin recovery of the old growth component. Wildfire remains the biggest threat to old growth and wildlife. Restoration activities are badly needed to curb this threat.

Livestock Grazing - Most of the livestock operations north of the Colorado River have recently been conducted by the Grand Canyon Trust. The Trust has taken a very progressive stance in dealing with grazing issues. As such, it  is making many improvements to the range resource. Most past grazing problems have healed. The most significant of late, the Kanab Creek Allotment, was closed in the late 70s. As for south of the Colorado River, many of those lands have been ungrazed for many of the past 40 years. Again as with timber management, the current forest plan adequately addresses future grazing activities. Likewise the current BLM Resource Management Plan has taken steps to improve the range resource.

Primitive Roads - Both the USFS and the BLM have taken actions to reduce the number of existing roads and otherwise properly manage access. Recent actions again developed through extensive public input have served to eliminate cross country travel and wildcat road development. Future timber management on the North Kaibab Ranger District will include closure of many of the existing roads created by past timber sales. Proliferation of roads in the areas proposed to be included in the monument was never a real issue because of the low levels of use and lack of proximal population centers. Out-of-season illegal taking of wildlife in Arizona seems more related to proximity of large human populations rather than primitive road density.

Wildlife Migration Corridors - Wildlife migration corridors have been managed for nearly 40 years in this area. A study conducted by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Arizona Game and Fish Department in the late 1990s addressed the most significant wildlife migration corridor (mule deer) in the area—Highway 89. Studies conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in the late 1970s identified likely mule deer migration corridors along Highways 67 and 89A. State wildlife agencies, state highway departments, the USFS and BLM are acutely aware of the need to maintain travel corridors and actively engage in this concern.

We are confident in the wildlife, recreation and land management abilities of the State of Arizona and federal agencies working in the Grand Canyon Watershed and see no reason for national monument designation both north and south of the Colorado River. The multiple public land uses in the area are already subject to state and federal land management review and permitting. We strongly support the multiple use management administered by the Kaibab National Forest and the BLM, Arizona Strip District. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recognizes America’s legacy of wildlife and wildlands is a direct reflection of our national wealth, which is ultimately derived from our natural resources. As such, we strongly support responsible use of both renewable and non-renewable resources and cannot support any actions that will unnecessarily restrict use. Monument designation will serve only to complicate land and wildlife management objectives.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,





M David Allen
President & CEO

CC:      Arizona Game and Fish Commission
            Governor Doug Ducey
            Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
            Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
            Sen. John McCain
            Sen. Jeff Flake
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick
            Rep. Martha McSally
            Rep. Raul Grijalva
            Rep. Paul Gosar
            Rep. Matt Salmon
            Rep. David Schweikert
            Rep. Ruben Gallego
            Rep. Trent Franks
            Rep. Kyrsten Sinema

Thursday, January 28, 2016

RMEF, Partners Recognized for Conservation Work

Leanne Marten, Regional Forester for the Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recently recognized and honored USFS employees and partners –the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Tenderfoot Trust and Bair Ranch Foundation– for their conservation work with a Region 1 Regional Forester’s Honor Award.

The Conserving Open Space award recognized those involved for their efforts in protecting undeveloped forests, grasslands, working farms, ranches and timberlands from conversion to other uses. Specifically, the recipients were honored for their work on the Tenderfoot Project in central Montana.

Below is a synopsis of the award from the USFS.



Conserving Open Space
Through a collaborative effort, 8,220 acres of forested lands along Tenderfoot Creek within the Smith River watershed in Montana were secured for recreation, resource protection, and efficient management of National Forest System lands. These former Northern Pacific Railroad lands were interspersed checker board style with land in the National Forest System. 

This project took six years to complete. Due to the efforts of the Tenderfoot Trust and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), this purchase received the support of Montana Senators Baucus, Tester and Daines. The Bair Ranch Foundation had held the former railroad lands in trust. They are to be commended for their patience.

Outcomes and accomplishments:
Acquisition of these lands meets the goals and objectives of the Forest Service Strategic Plan and Forest Land and Resource Management Plans on many levels. The acquisition connects to a larger network of recreational opportunities in linking to existing trail systems and securing public access. This project further strengthens Montana's vast outdoor recreation economy. In addition to recreational benefits, consolidating public and private ownership contributes to the agency's overall efforts for improved forest management, treatment of invasive species, fire prevention, improved local economies, and wildlife conservation by preventing further habitat fragmentation from development.

Two items were unique to this transaction: RMEF secured five percent of the value in grants and donated funds, providing the United States a bargain sale overall; and The Bair Ranch Foundation will donate five percent of their net profit to the Forest Service for forest management in the Tenderfoot watershed.

The Tenderfoot project is a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and partnership success story.

Congratulations to:
Bob Dennee, Team Leader, ESLZ Team Leader and Project Manager (retired), Forest Service
Kim Lange, ESLZ Title Examiner (retired), Forest Service
Carol Hatfield, White Sulphur Springs District Ranger, Lewis & Clark National Forest, Forest Service
Bill Avey, Forest Supervisor, Lewis & Clark National Forest, Forest Service
Kimball Frome, Region One, Senior Review Appraiser, Forest Service
Janné Joy, Region One, Land Acquisition Program Manager, Forest Service
Robin Edwards, Region One, Regional Title Program Manager, Forest Service
Mark Lodine, Office of General Counsel
Wayne Hirsch, The Bair Ranch Foundation
Glen Hough, The Bair Ranch Foundation
Butch Marita, Tenderfoot Trust
Ernie Nunn, Tenderfoot Trust
Mitch Godfrey, Tenderfoot Trust
Mike Mueller, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Grant Parker, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ron Marcoux, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (retired)



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Raise Your Voice about California's Wolf Plan

To All California RMEF members,
UPDATED INFORMATION: We just received word from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that comments regarding California’s wolf plan (see below) will no longer be accepted via the email address they previously provided. Instead, GO HERE to comment.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding public informational meetings right now about its new gray wolf plan. It is urgent that we let the state agency know how we feel about wolves and their looming detrimental impact on California’s elk population and hunting opportunity.
Important points:
· California has too little baseline information about deer/elk populations where wolves may establish territories.
· California’s Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk population (est. 7,000) is too small to sustain CDFW’s plan of 9 pairs of wolves, which equates into approximately 125 individual wolves. (Oregon has est. 120,000 elk while managing for 11 pairs of wolves.) We find no science to sustain California’s numbers.
· CDFW must manage elk and deer for optimum numbers so predators have their needs met while maintaining a surplus for hunters to pursue and wildlife watchers to view.
· Key is to bring about a balance based on the latest science to manage habitat, prey and predators so all can thrive without diminishing ungulate populations that Americans worked for more than a century to resurrect.
All meetings will be held from 5-8 p.m. Dates and locations are as follows:
Sacramento: Feb. 1, 2016 (final meeting)
Double Tree Hotel
2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, 95815
If you cannot attend, please submit a written comment. Again, it is vital that sportsmen and women weigh in on this issue for the sake of California’s elk population and the future of hunting. Please make an effort to do so.
Sincerely;



M. David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Monday, January 18, 2016

Remain Engaged on Colorado Wolf Issue

Colorado RMEF members,

First of all, we want to say ‘thank you’ for your public comments that led to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voting 7-4 last week to oppose the release of both Mexican and gray wolves in your state.

Having said that, it is extremely vital that we all remain actively engaged and vigilant. I can promise you that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will do exactly that! The commission vote was merely symbolic and is not binding in any fashion. In fact, it is likely that pro-wolf groups will push for ballot initiatives and/or file lawsuits in order to force their will on the landscape.

As we have witnessed first-hand, there are many lessons to be learned from the reintroduction of wolves in the Northern Rockies. The impacts on elk, other wildlife and cattle remain significant in many places. You only need to visit the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to witness that. The bottom line is we cannot afford to let history repeat itself.

Thank you for your support.

M. David Allen
RMEF President & CEO

Monday, January 11, 2016

Call to Action: Colorado Wolf Proposal

To All Colorado RMEF members,

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is planning to adopt one of two alternative resolutions regarding wolf reintroduction in Colorado. The meeting is this Wednesday, January 13. The pro-wolf people, in-state and nationally (Defenders of Wildlife among them), are rallying hard, flooding the CPW with emails and planning to have "hundreds" of supporters at the meeting. Find a link of our letter to the CPW here and we ask that you make your feelings known as well by emailing the CPW.

Pro-hunting groups will also be represented, but we are likely to be outnumbered. The pro-wolf people are going at this very hard and may be bussing people in from Boulder.

The alternatives are shown below. The best alternative for hunters or anyone really concerned about overall wildlife management is Alternative 2.

Please send emails to the CPW at dnr_cpwcommission@state.co.us. This is an important step in delaying or prohibiting the reintroduction. The pro-wolf people are all over this. We need the help of all hunters!

David Allen
RMEF President & CEO


Original version: NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission affirms its support of the Wolf Working Group’s recommendations adopted by the Wildlife Commission in May 2005 and hereby opposes any introduction of Mexican or intentional reintroduction of gray wolves in the State of Colorado.

Alternative Version 1: NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission affirms its support of the Wolf Working Group’s recommendations adopted by the Wildlife Commission in May 2005, recommends that Mexican wolf recovery efforts be confined to the subspecies’ historic range, and emphasizes the importance of bi-national recovery planning with Mexico.

Alternative Version 2: NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission affirms its support of the Wolf Working Group’s recommendations adopted by the Wildlife Commission in May 2005, opposes the intentional release of any wolves into Colorado, recommends that Mexican wolf recovery efforts be confined to the subspecies’ historic range, and emphasizes the importance of bi- national recovery planning with Mexico.


Thank you for your support of elk and other wildlife in Colorado.

Call to Action: Colorado Wolf Proposal

To All Colorado RMEF members,

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is planning to adopt one of two alternative resolutions regarding wolf reintroduction in Colorado. The meeting is this Wednesday, January 13. The pro-wolf people, in-state and nationally (Defenders of Wildlife among them), are rallying hard, flooding the CPW with emails and planning to have "hundreds" of supporters at the meeting. Attached you will find our letter to the CPW and we ask that you make your feelings known as well by emailing the CPW.

Pro-hunting groups will also be represented, but we are likely to be outnumbered. The pro-wolf people are going at this very hard and may be bussing people in from Boulder.

The alternatives are shown below. The best alternative for hunters or anyone really concerned about overall wildlife management is Alternative 2.

Please send emails to the CPW at dnr_cpwcommission@state.co.us. This is an important step in delaying or prohibiting the reintroduction. The pro-wolf people are all over this. We need the help of all hunters!





David Allen
RMEF President & CEO


Original version: NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission affirms its support of the Wolf Working Group’s recommendations adopted by the Wildlife Commission in May 2005 and hereby opposes any introduction of Mexican or intentional reintroduction of gray wolves in the State of Colorado.

Alternative Version 1: NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission affirms its support of the Wolf Working Group’s recommendations adopted by the Wildlife Commission in May 2005, recommends that Mexican wolf recovery efforts be confined to the subspecies’ historic range, and emphasizes the importance of bi-national recovery planning with Mexico.

Alternative Version 2: NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission affirms its support of the Wolf Working Group’s recommendations adopted by the Wildlife Commission in May 2005, opposes the intentional release of any wolves into Colorado, recommends that Mexican wolf recovery efforts be confined to the subspecies’ historic range, and emphasizes the importance of bi-national recovery planning with Mexico.


Thank you for your support of elk and other wildlife in Colorado.

RMEF Letter to Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission Regarding Wolves


January 11, 2016


Mr. Chris Castilian
Chair
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission
6060 Broadway
Denver, CO 80216


Chairman Castilian and Commissioners:

We understand the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to consider a petition on January 13 that would prevent the introduction of wolves in Colorado.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) supports Alternative Version 2 of this petition including language that opposes the intentional release of any wolves into Colorado. Reintroduction of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain West has had significant impacts on elk, deer, other wildlife and livestock in many locations.   Further, the lessons learned from the Greater Yellowstone wolf reintroduction should be heeded as you consider the long term future of Colorado’s wildlife. Those who promoted the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction, including Defenders of Wildlife, have displayed a substantial lack of good faith in the establishment of recovery goals and wolf management tools.

The strategy of the pro-wolf supporters is nothing short of “let’s agree to just about anything to get our foot in the door first; then we will do whatever is necessary to further our agenda.” Those supporting wolf reintroductions will use the federal courts and judges as opposed to subscribing to empirical science. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) will lose the ability to manage as you see fit and mandated by federal lawsuits. CPW need only to talk with the state wildlife agencies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan to determine what impacts a reintroduced wolf species will bring to Colorado, including financial impacts which will reach into the millions.

Further, one only needs to look at the wolf populations in the Great Lakes region and take inventory of where the deer populations as well as elk populations have suffered dramatically due predation. Again, the same pro-wolf groups that now desire wolves introduced into Colorado continue to tie up wolf management in the Great Lakes states in federal courts as wolf numbers expand and deer and elk decrease. The lessons CPW can draw from both the Yellowstone region and the Great Lakes states illustrate that wolf populations where there are significant ungulates will have a significant effect on your overall wildlife management systems.  

Mexican gray wolves are another matter. The home range of this species did not historically include Colorado. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project does not include Colorado in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. That area is limited to Arizona and New Mexico.

Please consider these reasons for supporting Alternative Version 2 of this petition.
  1. There is evidence gray wolves have already re-established populations in Colorado. Introduction of a separate species of wolf could create hybridized wolves.
  2. Introduction of Mexican wolves would certainly have a detrimental impact on elk, deer, other wildlife and livestock—all factors critically important to Colorado’s landscape, recreational value and economy.
  3. Introduction of Mexican wolves could impact the balance in Colorado that currently exists among existing predators and prey. Judging from our experience in other western states, wolves will impact wildlife populations, distribution and behavior—often in negative and undesirable ways.
Please understand our position on this issue does not come without serious consideration of the scientific understanding of wolves, wolf interactions with other species and wolf management. In fact, we have invested more than $725,000 in grants to leading universities, state and federal wildlife conservation agencies and tribal agencies for independent research on this subject.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.

Sincerely,





M. David Allen
President & CEO


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How Did that Happen?

We recently received the question below via a Facebook follower (Cortni):

This is my dad's elk he got this year. I was wondering if someone could tell me what the cause of this deformity could be.


Here is a response from Tom Toman, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation director of science and planning:

This kind of deformity can be caused by genes or by injury. My best guess on this elk is an injury occurred that broke the skull when the animal was a yearling. While a calf will have little knobs, they are not usually long enough to get caught on anything. A yearling’s skull is not totally hardened at that stage in life and is more easily damaged and the spikes a yearling have would give more leverage for an injury to occur. You can see the calcification of a bone ridge that has formed above the animal’s left eye (circled in red) in the photo to the right, and the caved in appearance of the skull below the antler pedicel. That is nature’s way of healing an injury. The other side of the skull is smooth and is typical of skull growth.   

Go here to see more elk biology facts and information.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Photoshopped or Genuine?

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s January-February issue of Bugle magazine caught a lot of attention as soon as it hit our members’ mailboxes. How could it not? The cover is one of the most unique in RMEF’s 31-year history. It is the product of Jake Mosher, a frequent Bugle contributor. And as Jake explains below, the colorful cover has its own unique story to tell.


We certainly live in a photo-shopped world. I'm not sure if you happened to see the other picture I submitted with this, but I attached it here. The shot that ran on the cover was one of 800 40-second exposures I took remotely between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. in eastern Montana. I used a Nikon D810, 20mm f1.8 Nikkor lens, and a Promote remote control. By facing the camera north, our Earth's rotation appears to spin the stars around Polaris. With 800 individual images, I'm able to combine them into one photograph in which the stars appear not as individual points but as colorful, concentric arcs around the North Star. 

While looking through the 800 pictures I used to form this "star trail" image, I found the one where, just by good luck, a shooting star was captured between the elk's antlers. Generally, in any given star trail shoot, I'll have between six and twenty falling stars. The northern lights are an added bonus, and appeared two different times during this shoot - once for about 15 minutes shortly after dark, and then again closer to daybreak. 

I have also attached a low-res, time-lapse film (see below) I made of the 800 pictures which shows the dancing light which accompanies the Aurora Borealis.

Jake Mosher

If interested in purchasing one of Jake's photos, go here.